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U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team Downs Greece 3-0 in Opening Match of Olympics


HERAKLIO, Greece (August 11, 2004) - The U.S. Women's National Team rolled over Greece in the first match of Group G at the 2004 Olympics, winning 3-0 as Shannon Boxx and Abby Wambach scored in the first half and Mia Hamm added a clincher late in the game.
       
On a beautiful evening at Pankritio Stadium, set smack on the coast of the island of Crete, the Greeks put some early defensive pressure on the USA but then dropped back into their own half in a 4-5-1 formation, often having at least seven or eight players at the top of their penalty area. The USA played in a 4-4-2, with Hamm and Wambach up top, and had trouble finding space through the middle of the Greek bunker defense, and thus the two first-half goals came from the flanks.
       
The first goal came in the 14th minute when Hamm twisted Angeliki Lagoumtzi to the ground on the left flank with a razor-sharp cut-back move, then drilled a skipping left-footed cross into the middle. Wambach let the ball roll through her legs to the onrushing Boxx, who hammered her first-time left-footed shot into the left corner from 12 yards out. It was Boxx's 11th international goal and came in her first-ever Olympic appearance.
       
The second goal came 16 minutes later off some nifty work from defender Kate Markgraf down the left flank. She settled a blocked Hamm shot, then dribbled past a defender and bent a cross that dropped right between two defenders to an unmarked Wambach, who lofted a perfectly-placed header over diving Greek goalkeeper Maria Giatrakis, dropping the ball into the left side netting. The score gave the 5-foot-11 striker 15 goals in last 16 games, and was the 29th of her career. It was her first goal in Olympic competition. 
       
The USA could have added a few more goals in the first half as they peppered the Greek net with 15 shots before the break, two of which caught woodwork, as Aly Wagner hammered a shot off the top of the cross bar in the fifth minute and Boxx hit the right post with a shot off a flicked-on corner kick in the seventh. Right before that chance, midfielder Kristine Lilly hammered a shot from a sharp angle that Giatrakis had to palm over the goal.
       
The Greeks defended gamely, but didn't see much of the ball during the match, as lone forward Dimitra Panteleiadou ran her heart out chasing the U.S. backs and eventually was replaced to a round of applause in the 76th minute. When Greece did string together possession several times, the home crowd of about 16,000 roared in appreciation.
       
Giatrakis played a fine match for Greece in goal, making just five saves as many U.S. shots flew over the net, but she was rock solid on high balls, many of which bent toward her and away from crashing U.S. attackers.
       
Wambach had a fine game for the U.S. playing with her back to the goal, holding the ball on the front line and often dropping into midfield to play-make, but it was her strike-partner Hamm who grabbed the final score.
       
In the 81st minute, Hamm collected an errant touch in the Greek defensive third then dribbled into the penalty area, cut inside on a defender and bent her left-footed shot around Giatrakis, who got her right glove on the ball, but couldn't stop it from hitting the left post and rolling into the net. The USA fired 11 shots after the break, but could only find the net through Hamm.
       
Greece had perhaps its best chance in the 48th minute on a free kick from 28 yards out, but the shot hit the American wall before being cleared. Greece did have two late corner kicks that excited the crowd, but neither troubled U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who picked up the 70th shutout of her career.
       
In the other Olympic women's matches played at the same time, Germany pulled off one of the most impressive results in Olympic history, crushing China 8-0. Japan also pulled off an upset of sorts, defeating 2003 Women's World Cup runner-up Sweden, 1-0. In the other Group G game, Brazil beat Australia, 1-0. 
       
The U.S. team will travel north to Thessaloniki tomorrow in preparation for its next match on Saturday, Aug. 14, against Brazil at Kaftanzoglio Stadium. That match kicks off at 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on CNBC.


U.S. Women's National Team Game Report
Match-up: USA vs. Greece
Competition: 2004 Olympics - Group G
Venue: Pankritio Stadium; Heraklio, Greece
Date: August 11, 2004; Kickoff - 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
Attendance: 16,000 (approx.)
Weather: Hot, breezy; 82 degrees

Scoring Summary:
             1     2     F
USA     2     1     3
GRE     0     0     0

USA - Shannon Boxx (Mia Hamm)                     14th minute.
USA - Abby Wambach (Kate Markgraf)            30.
USA - Mia Hamm (Unassisted)                           81.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Briana SCURRY; 3-Christie RAMPONE, 4-Cat REDDICK, 14-Joy FAWCETT, 15-Kate MARKGRAF; 7-Shannon BOXX, 10-Aly WAGNER (5-Lindsay TARPLEY, 60), 11-Julie FOUDY (Capt.; 8-Angela HUCLES, 71), 13-Kristine LILLY; 9-Mia HAMM, 20-Abby WAMBACH (12-Cindy PARLOW, 79).
Subs not used: 2-Heather MITTS, 6-Brandi CHASTAIN, 17-Heather O'REILLY, 18-Kristin LUCKENBILL.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.

GRE: 1-Maria GIATRAKIS; 4-Kalliopi STRATAKIS, 8-Konstantina KATSAITI, 13-Alexandra KAVVADA (14-Anastasia PAPADOPOULOU, 59), 16- Eleni BENSON; 2-Angeliki LAGOUMTZI, 3-Sophia SMITH, 6-Eftichia MICHAILIDOU - C, 12-Amalia LOSENO, 15-Tanya KALYVAS (10-Natalia CHATZIGIANNIDOU, 46); 11-Dimitra PANTELEIADOU (7-Vasiliki SOUPIADOU, 76).
Subs Not Used: 18-Ileana MOSCHOS, 5-Athanasia POURIDOU, 17-Maria LAZAROU, 9-Angeliki TEFANI.
Head Coach: Xanthi Konstandinidou

Statistical Summary:
                                 USA        GRE

Shots:                         26             1
Shots on Goal:           10             0
Saves:                         0              5
Corner Kicks:            10             3
Fouls:                          8              8
Offside:                       1              1

Misconduct Summary:
USA - Abby Wambach (caution)             49th minute.

Officials:
Referee: Jenny Palqvist (Sweden)
Asst. Referee #1: Emilia Parviaainen (Finland)
Asst. Referee #2: Andi Regan (Northern Ireland)
4th Official: Bentia D'Coth (India)


2004 Olympic Women's Soccer First Round Results / Schedule
Aug. 11
USA 3, Greece 0
Germany 8, China 0
Brazil 1, Australia 0
Japan 1, Sweden 0

Aug. 14
Japan vs. Nigeria
Greece vs. Australia
China vs. Mexico
USA vs. Brazil

Aug. 17
Germany vs. Mexico
Greece vs. Brazil
USA vs. Australia
Sweden vs. Nigeria


2004 Olympic Women's Soccer Group Standings
GROUP E

Teams         W  L   T Pts GF GA GD
Japan           1   0   0   3    1   0   +1
Nigeria         0   0   0   0    0   0     0
Sweden        0  1   0   0    0    1   -1

GROUP F
Teams        W  L   T Pts GF GA GD
Germany     1   0   0   3    8    0   +8
Mexico       0   0   0   0    0    0     0
China          0   1   0   0    0    8    -8

GROUP G
Teams        W  L   T Pts GF GA GD
USA           1   0   0   3    3    0   +3
Brazil          1   0   0   3    1    0   +1
Greece       0   1   0   0    0    3    -3
Australia     0   1   0   0    0    1    -1


U.S. Quote Sheet
U.S. forward Mia Hamm on the match:
"We were anxious to go out there (for the first game) and Greece played with a slow tempo which kind of messes up your rhythm. But the team stayed clam, we got some goals in the first half which gave us some breathing room and the goal in the second half was big for us."

Hamm on the USA having to play three first-round matches while six teams play just two in the 10-team format:
"The way you assure that you make the gold medal game is winning every game and that's our focus right now. It's our job as professionals to prepare ourselves, to regenerate, re-hydrate, get some food in us and get ready for Brazil, because they are an extremely talented team. They play with so much flair and we have to be at the top of our game to play with them."

Hamm on how the USA's historical success against Brazil will not influence the match:
"Anyone who has seen us play against Brazil knows that the record is not indicative of how we compete against them. We have respect first and foremost for this game, it's extremely humbling, and definitely for our opponents. We had a great one in Greece tonight who I think made their country extremely proud. Now we have to focus on Brazil and that's a huge task for us."

U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx on the importance of an early goal:
"It's critical to get a goal early, especially when you are facing a bunker like that so you don't get frustrated. It's hard to get that first one so I'm glad I was able to do that."

Greek head coach Xanthi Konstandinidou praising the U.S. team in the post-match press conference:
"It is an honor to play against that team. I was at the 1996 Olympics and saw the 76,000 persons there. In Greece we play normally with 100 persons watching. You gave me and my players much motivation to be here and I believe all of women's soccer owes your team a lot. And I hope you go to the gold."

U.S. head coach April Heinrichs on the match:
"We got the win, three points and the shutout. We were stroking the ball around, having a variety in our attack, creating goal scoring chances and finished three of them. We played Greece for 90 minutes and went at them with a relentlessness that few teams would do given that we were up 2-0 at halftime. It's one step, getting our feet wet and building confidence for the next game."

Heinrichs on the USA's creating a lot of scoring chances:
"I thought we were very unpredictable today. It was one of the best qualities."

U.S. captain Julie Foudy on playing the host team:
"It's a tough first match because they play with a lot of emotion and they are playing at home with all their fans. Whenever they got a sequence together, their fans would roar for them. I think we did a good job of not giving them any momentum, and holding the ball and not letting them have many touches."

Foudy summing up the game:
"We said we wanted to come in here and play well and get three points, so one game down."

Foudy on whether the U.S. team thought it would score more goals against Greece:
"We knew coming in that they were a good enough team--that it wasn't going to be a game where we were going to run up the score. We felt like we had a lot of respect for them because they are playing in front of their home crowd and you never know in the game of soccer how things can turn, so we were expecting it to be pretty close."

Foudy on how Greece's performance can impact women's soccer in this country:
"It's a great start for them to be at this stage and for the world to see that there are women's soccer players out there and that it's not anomaly, that it's an entertaining form of sport. I think it's great for them and their country and they've proven with the men side how good they can be and hopefully this will be the first step for the women."

U.S. midfielder Kristine Lilly on the USA's attack:
"With their bunker, we had less space to play, but we did some good things to get around them. We had a lot of chances and we need to finish them. That's just a little bit more focus and repetition."

Lilly on the atmosphere at Pankritio Stadium:
"The fans here support their country and that's great for the women's game. We had our small group of fans up in the corner, but it was great atmosphere, a great stadium to play at and a great start to the Olympics."

U.S. forward Abby Wambach on the match:
"We're happy with our performance. It's not our best performance by any stretch, but it's the first game of the Olympics and we had to get the kinks out."
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